U.S. Navy Naming Destroyer After Somerville Medal Of Honor Recipient

Photo: Carl Stevens (WBZ)

SOMERVILLE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A retired U.S. Navy captain and Medal of Honor recipient from Somerville is getting a warship named after him.

The U.S. Navy says it will name an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer after retired Navy Capt. Thomas Kelley.

"It’s kind of overwhelming, to tell you the truth," Kelley told WBZ NewsRadio. "We’re down to 300-something ships in the Navy, and to think one of them is going to bear my name is totally humbling."

In 1969, Kelley was serving in the Vietnam War when he was severely wounded while leading a mission on the Mekong River Delta to extract infantry soldiers.

"A rocket-propelled grenade came in and detonated on a pipe or stanchion about six inches from my head," Kelley said.

Despite his injuries, Kelley continued to lead the mission and got everyone out safely. Kelley was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions and continued to serve until his retirement from the service in 1990.

While the new destroyer will take years to build, Kelley hopes that the crew who eventually serve aboard the ship bearing his name will do so with pride and honor.

"There have been a few fights on the pier and bar rooms about ‘My ship is better than your ship,’" Kelly chuckled. "I would hope the sailors on the Kelley will stand up for what they believe in and what I stood for, and what they stand for also."

WBZ's Carl Stevens (@CarlWBZ) reports.

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